Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Our Time: Calling for a Referendum and the Jamaican Democracy

It was not long ago that the Scottish independence referendum  was in the spotlight earlier this year with the populace deciding to stay with the United Kingdom, and we as Jamaicans asked ourselves, 'why not us?'

we witnessed the Irish allowing same-sex marriage through a referendum that surprised many who were accustomed to the conservative nature of the predominately catholic nation, again Jamaicans found reason to call for a referendum on the buggery law as the issue took center stage. 

Then we recently observed the Greek people refusing austerity, in a momentous referendum that may have lasting repercussions for the world economy, specifically the European Union and Euro-zone economic bloc with many other euro-zone members nations contemplating their future in the union with Britain and Spain planning in the near future to bring the "yes or no" question to their respected electorate in referendums. 

There has been a increase in calls for a grand referendum that will bring questions to the people that the 63 in parliament do not dare decide for 2.8 million people; issues of concerning culture in the buggery law, concerning the economy in whether or not we bare the chain of austerity, even democracy in becoming a republic and many other issues.

But this Jamaican grand referendum has been denied by most of our elitist including politicians on a most disturbing basis beyond the tribal nature of our politics but rather they go farther to insult the intelligence of the populace; indicating that the people are not 'smart' enough to make such important decision independently and would just be a mere political exercise.  

There is no willingness to defend our 'ordinary Jamaicans' against this line of reasoning, nothing from civil society groups, hence our political leaders will never be committed to a referendum and general constitutional reform because they believe the Jamaican people are not smart enough to understand. 

Certainly the education of the electorate on critical matters cannot be left up to the whim of politicians, therefore we need coordinated effort in public/private spaces to elevate the standard of what it means to be a voter or potential voter, leading to better public participation and overall better governance.